Made in Baltimore: The Making of the Monument City Brand

On Branding: Commitment, Success, and Happiness

Starting a new business and building a brand takes commitment, resources, and follow-through. Understanding your market, offering options that consumers want to see, and providing clarity will all support your efforts toward success. Success is the standard goal of any new business, but establishing a successful brand depends on a devotion to values and happiness. The core purpose of your business and what it has to offer should be emulated throughout the brand.  Strong-rooted values and a commitment to consistency will create a smiling business and happy culture within.

We had the pleasure of listening to, thinking about, creating, and activating a Baltimore craft beer brand known as Monument City Brewing Company. Here’s how we did it.

Turning a Passion into a Successful Craft Beer Brand

When the founders of Monument City commissioned Orange Element to help define and launch a new brand strategy and identity, we were eager to kick things off. A passion for homebrewing invoked the dream of building a Baltimore brewery with a great name rooted in the history of this wonderful city.

The founders were prepared to commit to quality products, with locally sourced ingredients when possible, and wanted an honest brand to thrive in the heart of our community. This knowledge became our starting point, compelling us to listen to gain additional insights and a deeper comprehension of Monument City’s ideas. We wanted to know what motivated them, what inspired them, and what brands they liked, disliked and why.

Standing Out in a Crowded Market

When we sat down to brainstorm, we recognized how overwhelmingly crowded the craft beer market was becoming. The rapid growth of on-shelf beer SKUs (well over 130 brands in our region today) required us to identify opportunities that would make Monument City get recognized amongst the noise. We thought about what aspects of our city could be expressed in the brand, what elements can inform and shape an honest craft brand, and how the brand could fit into the hardworking personality and close-knit community of Baltimore.

In our first pitch to Monument City, we set the following tone: “For beer drinkers seeking an honest, great tasting, everyday brew without regard to trend status, Monument City creates well-considered, drinkable ales designed to become, and stay, a go-to beer choice for everyone who tries them”. Here we are nearly five years from the start of our work together, and we are proud to see Monument City staying true to these core values and core brand.

Creating The Image

In order to create an identity that would fit right in with the manufacturing heritage of Baltimore City and the brand vision, we researched everything from decades-old beer cans to farm equipment, seed packaging, and industrial labeling. It was important for Monument City to capture the true spirit and history of Baltimore, and we had a great time studying what made many older designs so successful.

Our research helped us create an identity system to supply a series of core beers, known today as Penchant Pils, 51 Rye, American Brown Ale, and Battle IPA. This new system required consistency of brand elements with flexibility in style to allow seasonal and limited variety in package design. These brand elements included fonts, colors, and icons that are easily translated across core, seasonal, and limited brews. We were able to then use this system to support additional packaging, tap handles, posters, collateral, environmental graphics, and marketing campaigns. Today, we see this system utilized by additional artists and designers to support new collaborations.

Activating an Honest Brand

There is a great sense of pride seeing our logo above the brewery doors or on a 6-pack from a local store. There is a great sense of pride when watching a bartender pour a beer from tap handles donning our designs, or seeing expansion, success and celebration at a brewery for which we helped build the brand foundation. This pride comes from knowing we built a brand system that allows for the founders and their partners to thrive on.

We congratulate Monument City Brewing Company on their most recent anniversary and wish them continued success. Next time you reach for a beer, reach for a Monument.

Need to build, clarify or inspire your brand? Let’s get to work.

Our work with Monument City was featured on the Made In Baltimore blog!